MoE in Mexico

23rd August 2022

Charlie López – Universidad de Monterrey (UDEM), Monterrey

Mantle of the Expert for citizenship and sustainability learning in university context

Hi! My name is Charlie Lopez. I’m 32 years old and I’m a teacher of citizenship and sustainable development at Universidad de Monterrey (UDEM) in Monterrey, Mexico. UDEM is a private institution of humanist origin and catholic inspiration that seeks for the transcendence of all of its students through the act of service to others, as indicated in its motto: “Man is only fulfilled in the service of man”.

Right now I’m in my third semester of a master’s degree in Educational Innovation at Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL), developing a project titled Drama in education as a catalyst for teaching and learning processes at university level. This project is mainly based on Dorothy Heathcote’s Mantle of the Expert (MOE), and the writings of many authors such as Viv Aitken, Augusto Boal, Gavin Bolton, Jerome Bruner, Susan Davis, Brian Edmiston, Carl Rogers, Tim Taylor, Lev Vygotsky and many more.

The course in which I’m implementing this project is called Materia Enfocada a Temas Actuales (META; spanish for: Subject Focused on Current Topics), a co-curricular course (apart from the academic courses for each bachelor’s degree at the univeristy) that aims for the transformation of students into more involved and responsible citizens. This course is offered to every college student from within the 47 different academic programs at UDEM, from areas such as Art, Architecture and Design, Health Sciences, Law and Social Sciences, Education and Humanities, Engineering and Technologies, & Business. The age range of the students that take META is around 17 to 22 years old.

META’s objective is reached through the development of two competencies: Social and civic humanities and Digital globalization. Social and civic humanities describes a person who rethinks the challenges of today’s societies with a humanistic vision and who is committed to building a fairer and sustainable world. On the other hand, digital globalization relates to a person who interacts with empathy and respect in digital environments solving global challenges with knowledge, use of new technologies and appreciation for diverse cultural realities. These competencies are developed through the teaching of topics such as integrity, responsible citizenship, systemic thinking, understanding of social problems, sustainability, interculturality, citizen participation & leadership.

For students to embrace the learner-centered perspective from UDEM’s humanistic vision, the institution takes the students from an interpsychological process of learning to a intrapsychological one. According to this approach, during the first years of college, the aim is for the students to acquire the institutional humanistic traits through socio-cultural psychopedagogies, that is, pedagogies that involve a modeling from the teacher and collaboration with other classmates (interpsychological). As product of this appropriation and internalization of humanism in their life, the goal is for students to naturally live a self-directed learning (intrapsychological) in the final stages of their studies.

Taking this vision into account and adding drama in education into the mix, my project is divided in 3 terms or phases:

1st term – Dramatic exercises

The first part of the project covers a set of weekly dramatic exercises (also called “mini MOEs”) that will serve as a preparation and scaffolding for the later terms, where MOE will be key in the teaching and learning processes. Through these exercises, created by the teacher, students will start working with the core elements of MOE in a discrete way, taking different expert roles (such as youtubers, podcasters, news consultants, psychologists and civil society organizations), and completing small commissions from different clients.

In term 1 we will cover the topics of integrity, responsible citizenship, systemic thinking and the understanding of social problems. Also, this phase will use hetero-evaluation (evaluation done by the teacher) mainly to serve as a diagnostic for the competencies the students are developing through the class, and also do to the fact that the teacher is the one creating most of the fictional contexts that will be used.

2nd term – Mantle of the Expert

The second part of the project will work with MOE as we know it, based on Dorothy Heathcote’s work and from modern approaches such as Tim Taylor’s and Viv Aitken’s. Starting with a brief explanation of how MOE works, teacher and students will co-construct 2 different MOEs experiences that will serve to the exploration of 2 topics, sustainability and interculturality topics, as well as for looking back at topics from the previous term for interconnections between them.

With the goal of gradually ceding control to the students in order for them to reach that self-directed learning UDEM aims for, this part of the project will use both hetero-evaluation and co-evaluation, letting the students assess the work of their peers and as a team, passing on the mantle of responsibility for their learning.

3rd term – Autonomous Mantle of the Expert

Lastly, the project (and the semester) will end with one big MOE experience that will take the students into the topics of citizen participation and leadership (as well as the previous topics). Emulating the humanistic vision of the institution, in this term the students will create their one fictional context that will serve as a platform for their learning. Guided by the teacher, students will stablish learning contracts and self-evaluate their work, in order to reach that self-directed learning that the school wants its students to embrace, putting them at the center of their learning experience.

This last part of the project is where the scaffolding of the previous two terms will prove if the students are taking on the responsibility of a global citizen in the real world through the lived experiences in the fictional contexts we will be working on.

And that’s pretty much it! I hope you are exited as I am of seeing where this project goes. I really believe that drama can take university students into new levels of citizen and sustainable responsibility.

As of 3 weeks into this project, I’ve seen students excited about learning, working with a purpose, and having significant and empowering social experiences. The class feels authentic and alive.

Let’s see what the coming weeks brings. I promise I’ll keep in touch.


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